What is the difference between a tree surgeon and an arborist?

“Tree surgeon” is the well-known term for someone who can help manage and care for your trees, yet there is often confusion regarding the more in-depth role of an arborist or aboriculturist.

Many tree surgeons can boast appropriate qualifications and a great deal of experience in maintaining and looking after trees, usually by climbing and pruning the tree.  However they are not always fully trained in advanced tree care and the many biological or bio-mechanical issues your trees and woodland may face.

A tree surgeon will be fully capable of removing a branch or tree stump, tree felling and hedge trimming, however a professional tree inspection and appropriate management advice will require additional expertise.

What does a tree arborist do?

A qualified and experienced arborist, or arboricultural consultant, will fully comprehend the symptoms of incipient tree failure and be able to provide appropriate management recommendations.  

A tree surgeon may not be fully competent to perform tree condition inspections and BS5837 surveys and assure the continued safety of your trees.  A consulting arborist should also have appropriate Professional Indemnity insurance, in case something goes wrong.

Having gained my tree surgery qualifications in 2004, I started my first company – Arbor Vitae Professional Tree Services – to perform just that: tree surgery, maintenance, planting and woodland management services.

I have since continued to develop my practical and academic knowledge through seminars, conferences, professional body memberships and relevant literature to become a professional arborist. Hence Arbor Vitae Arboriculture was established in 2010 to offer an extended set of services including professional tree inspections.

What qualifications does an arborist need?

My qualifications as an arborist, or arboricultural consultant, include the LANTRA Professional Tree Inspector Certificate, the Technician’s Certificate in Arboriculture and the Certificate of Competence in ‘Bats & Tree Related Works’.  I have also attended the Expert Visual Tree Assessment course with Professor Claus Mattheck in Germany.

I am currently a committee member of the Scottish Branch of the Arboricultural Association, a member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters and a professional member of the Consulting Arborists Society.

These memberships and qualifications – plus over 13 years of experience in tree surgery and arboricultural consultancy – allow me to state my professional expertise in tree condition inspections and BS5837 surveys.

I have also developed further skills from voluntary work in Borneo and India, climbing giant rainforest trees under the instruction of ecological researchers.  I also have a lot of experience in tree lighting, tree planting, soil de-compaction, tool-less trenching, woodland design and management.

Myself and the Arbor Vitae Aboriculture team now work with many residential and corporate clients in Scotland including large construction firms, councils and utility providers.

Our arborist and consultancy services

We provide professional arboricultural consultancy services such as pre-development surveys, inspections for bats in trees and soil de-compaction as well as the essential care and management of trees and woodlands. Find out more in the Arboricultural Services section.

If you would like further information regarding any of our arborist services, or if you need a recommended tree surgeon in the Edinburgh area, please don’t hesitate to get in touch:

Mike Charkow (Senior Arborist)
07917 335 066

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